Israel may have to wait several years for the KC-46A tanker aircraft, which would be crucial for long-range airstrikes against the Muslim nation of Iran.
For now, the Biden administration has rejected Israel’s request to expedite delivery of two KC-46 refueling jets out of four purchased, which would facilitate IAF flight to attack Iran.
Israel asked the Biden administration last week to speed up the delivery of refueling tankers that could prove critical to striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it was told that the aircraft were back-ordered and it was unlikely that its first one would be ready until late 2024.
Israel was the one that procrastinated. This was due to endless elections which former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stage-managed from the fall of 2018 to 2021.
It should be recalled that defense minister Avigdor Liberman resigned in 2018, setting in motion events that led to elections. Netanyahu then exploited the inability of opposition parties to unseat him, and so endless elections resulted in delays for US military support.
Israel lacked a budget for years. It wasn’t until February 2021 that Israel finalized the letter of acceptance and deal for two KC-46As. By March the necessary approvals were in line.
Boeing is offering the Israel Air Force its new KC-46 tanker, which is also based on the 767. A first aircraft of this type will be delivered in two months’ time to the US Air Force, which will receive nearly 200 of them over the next few years.
The New York Times reported that US officials told Mr. Gantz that they would work to alleviate a production backlog. Biden administration officials are concerned that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is trying to revive the threat of a military strike against Iran.
The timeline presented by the Times says that Boeing is expected to provide eight of the aircraft, for $2.4 billion, with the first delivery scheduled for late 2024.
The US Air Force is also excited to get a plethora of the aircraft, after various delays and other problems had emerged in 2018. Other countries, like Japan, may also be ahead of Israel, having ordered the planes back in 2017.
The report points out that while Israel has an aging fleet of existing tankers, based on Boeing 707’s, long-range airstrikes might require landing in a third country, like Saudi Arabia.
If Israel needs this capability so desperately to carry out basic long-range operations, why did Netanyahu ignore this need? He was the Godfather of Iran threat warnings. So why wasn’t Israel preparing itself more before or after the 2015 nuclear deal?
The story about the KC-46s and Israel came out as reports said that Israel was preparing a “plan B” if Iran talks fail and that Israel would practice for potential Iran strikes in the next months.
Clearly, if the aircraft were essential for the practice, they would need to already be off the production line, in Israel’s hands and with pilots trained on them so they could be declared operational.
Jerusalem Post / ABC Flash Point News 2021.